HC Deb 07 March 1988 vol 129 cc15-6
54. Mr. Butler

To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a further statement on the progress of the business sponsorship incentive scheme.

Mr. Luce

The business sponsorship incentive scheme continues to be successful. It has brought in £16.4 million of new money for the arts and attracted 618 first-time sponsors, many of whom have continued to sponsor the arts. As I announced to the House on 26 January 1988, I have increased the budget for the scheme by 70 per cent., from £1.75 million to £3 million, for 1988–89 and restored the £25,000 maximum award limit.

Mr. Butler

I thank my right hon. Friend for that excellent news. Will he reassure me that the awards will continue to be given on merit rather than on skin colour?

Mr. Luce

Yes, I can assure my hon. Friend of that.

Mr. Pike

Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the regions receive their share of benefit from the scheme, which is good, but at present seems to be giving too much advantage to London and the south-east?

Mr. Luce

I am very anxious that the scheme should be spread as widely as possible. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to note that, on average, 70 per cent. of the funds over the past three years have been directed outside London. That shows how widespread is the scheme.

55. Mr. Andrew Mitchell

To ask the Minister for the Arts how many new corporate sponsors of the arts have been brought in during the last 12 months as a result of the business sponsorship incentive scheme.

Mr. Luce

The scheme continues to attract new sponsors to the arts. There were 216 first-time sponsors in 1987 and I expect this number to increase considerably in 1988.

Mr. Mitchell

Can my right hon. Friend say how many first-time corporate sponsors returned to repeat their generosity in subsequent years?

Mr. Luce

It is interesting to note that a survey has been undertaken by the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, which supervises the scheme, which shows that no fewer than 90 per cent. of firms that joined for the first time have either decided to renew, or are in the process of renewing, their sponsorship. That is a clear sign of the value of the hard-headed bargain between the sponsor and the arts organisation.

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